When Helping Hurts: Closing Thoughts

In seminary I had a professor that compared our course work to that of drinking from a fire hydrant. You catch what you can and let the rest flow by. To some degree, that is how When Helping Hurts, was for me the first time I read it. Filled with insightful thoughts and challenges, it gave me much to consider and pray through. As I have continued to try to love the vulnerable in my city I have continually gone back to this book for encouragement and guidance. Not because it has all the answers, but because it steers me towards a biblical reminder of the brokenness that we all face. Sometimes a reminder of how difficult and deep poverty is helps to reset my feelings.

I hope you have enjoyed our two-month study of this book. Like many good books it has been a blessing to read through this resource again. If this was your first time, I suggest you plan to pick it up again in a year or so and do a second read through. You will probably grasp some things you missed the first time through. Though our study has only touched the surface of many of the topics we addressed we hope you will continue to dig deeper and seek God for answers to the challenges you face.

As we conclude this series I would like to close with a few thoughts:

Little love can have Big Impact

No doubt most of us have read the parable of the mustard seed; from humble beginnings can grow big impact. I like to use the apple analogy. There are typically five seeds in each apple. Imagine for a moment if we planted each of those seeds and they sprung into five separate trees. Each of those five trees would yearly produce between 150 to 300 apples. That’s a lot of apples! Add to that, most apple trees will typically produces apples for around 50 years! Five seeds lead to thousands of apples.

Much like a seed, our love given in small ways, touched by the grace of God can have big impact. This is a good reminder for most Americans who struggle to chase the big events and large-scale projects. Start small, love well and see where God takes it! I think this book clearly shares the importance of relationship in loving the poor. With that said, starting small and building on our friendship is a great way to begin.

Don’t forget the roots

Often the overwhelming physical needs and demands overshadow the deeper challenges. Behind every physical need is probably a need for deeper relational reconciliation. As well, it is easy to forget that as physical needs are cared for and happiness returns, that joy will only take them a little ways. Without the deeper reconciliation of relationship the happiness we all experience will only be fleeting. Broken and bitter relationships will continue to produce pain if not cared for at the root.

Adopt a learner’s heart

In many ways I only am just beginning this journey. It seems like each relationship I enter brings new challenges. Poverty is deep and complex and as followers of Christ we must always be ready and willing to learn and grow. We won’t be perfect so learning from our mistakes is crucial. I don’t know how many times I have walked away from a conversation with a vulnerable person and felt touched by their attitude, outlook or enthusiasm. It is a blessing that shouldn’t be missed!

I also think that the poor have so much to teach us. While they may be struggling they often have profound perspective. Sometimes they are able to see things or express things in ways that can make great impact. Be willing and open to listen and learn. A learner’s heart is important and valuable in your personal growth and the growth of others.

Thanks for following this blog series! If you have followed this series and have been challenged or motivated in a unique way we would love to hear from you. Leave us a message or comment.

As we each in our own way seek to love the poor and vulnerable in this world may we take the words of the Psalmist to heart:

“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Psalms 29:11


By | 2015-08-06T05:30:11+00:00 August 6th, 2015|Categories: Learn and Apply|Tags: |

About the Author:

John Warden is Reconciled World’s global staff pastor and the facilitator for 2:10. He holds a Masters of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has more than fifteen years of ministry experience. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD with his wife and two daughters. You can contact him directly at johnw@reconciledworld.org.

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